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Tuesday, 23 April 1985
Page: 1411

(Question No. 49)


Senator Puplick asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 28 February 1985:

Did the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently send a team of Examiners to Australia to examine Australia's science and technology policies and arrangements; if so:

(a) did the OECD Examiners strongly recommend that the two topics of science and technology should be 'treated within a single portfolio', and further, that 'it would be perverse to divide the two within central government', if so, why has the Government rejected the views of so expert a group (which came to Australia at its own invitation), and now split the functions of science and technology between two separate federal departments; and

(b) did the OECD Examiners also recommend that the Australian Science and Technology Council should make its reports direct to the Minister for Science; if so, does the Government intend to reject this recommendation as well.


Senator Button —The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(a) The final Report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Examiners studying science and technology matters in Australia has yet to be received by the Government. When the Report is received consideration will be given to its recommendations.

However, the draft Report notes that science and technology should be 'treated within a single portfolio' and 'it would be perverse to divide the two within central government'.

The technology function was placed with the Industry and Commerce portfolio in December 1984 in recognition of the fact that greater emphasis must be given in the restructuring of Australian manufacturing industry to the upgrading of its technological base. It also recognises the need to focus increased attention on the co-ordination of industry and technology policy development activities.

(b) The draft OECD Report also notes that the advice of the Australian Science and Technology Council should be directed to the Minister for Science.

The Government will give consideration to this aspect when the final OECD Report is received.